Managing Expectations in Concrete Polishing Projects
Concrete polishing customers need to know what the end result will look like. Contractors should set their expectations accurately from the start.
- Customers may mistakenly think that all existing blemishes in the concrete will be gone after polishing, which leads to dissatisfaction
- Setting expectations early helps improve understanding and end-result satisfaction
- Strategies for your expectation management plan:
- Explain what polished concrete is (and what it’s not)
- Emphasize the pros and cons
- Create a polished sample
- Maintain open communication
Polished concrete has become one of the most popular flooring options out there. It’s used in large spaces like warehouses, airports, and government buildings, as well as high-end homes, retail, car showrooms, and firehouses.
Even with its growing popularity, polished concrete is nagged by customer dissatisfaction after the finished product is revealed. People don’t realize what concrete polishing really is or how the project’s going to go. They think their existing stains or defects will magically disappear. “That will grind out, right?”
Ensure customer satisfaction with a strategy for managing expectations. All expectations your clients have must be realistic, measurable, and achievable in any concrete polishing project.
Here’s what to do to effectively manage customer expectations when working on concrete polishing projects.
Explain what polished concrete is (and what it’s not)
Concrete is polished through a honing process that relies on diamond grinding tools and concrete densifiers to smooth things out, dustproof the concrete, and create the desired finish.
Unfortunately, many people believe that polished concrete will have no blemishes or defects or that the concrete shouldn’t stain. When a crack is still visible or the concrete is etched by vinegar, they’re upset – which is understandable if it hasn’t been discussed prior to installation.
It’s essential to avoid this kind of dissatisfaction by being upfront. The fact is, polished concrete does require maintenance and care. It is relatively low maintenance, but necessary. And the process doesn’t fix existing concrete defects. The grinding and polishing occur in the top layer of concrete generally less than an ⅛″ deep.
Another important factor in concrete projects is determining whether a space is a good candidate for polished concrete. For instance, locations you may want to avoid are where people will be standing for long periods, professional kitchens and bathrooms, around swimming pools, or factories that work with acids. Be clear with customers about these realities, too. While polished concrete is great in many areas, it is not a good fit for every space.
Emphasize the pros and cons of polished concrete
Walk through all the strengths and weaknesses of polished concrete with clients before their project begins. Here are the pros and cons to emphasize:
- Durability: Concrete is the most durable hard surface flooring option available. They are hard and can hold up under a lot of weight, including heavy equipment traffic. With minimal maintenance, these floors will last a very long time, too.
- Cost-effective: Polishing concrete floors is cost-effective, since the floors are long-lasting and you won’t need to replace them. Polished concrete does not require waxes or sealers that need stripping and recoating. Its up-front cost of installation is more affordable than most other materials, like terrazzo and tile.
- Safety: Polished concrete creates a flat surface and has a higher coefficient of friction (COF) than other polished floors like granite or marble. Concrete is porous, so it’s slip-resistant .
- Environmentally friendly: Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemicals found in some construction materials and can be released into the air, causing health issues. Polished concrete flooring is free of VOCs.
- Reflective lighting: In some spaces with a lot of natural light, a polished concrete floor can help reduce the overhead lighting load since it reflects light and can create an appealing ambiance.
- Staining: Polished concrete can stain if a substance with high pH levels is spilled on it, such as vinegar, juice, or pet stains.
- UV fading if colored: While dyeing can make polished concrete even more aesthetically appealing, without a topical protectant, the color is susceptible to fading from UV light exposure.
- Repairs to existing blemishes: If the concrete already has cracks or imperfections, polishing doesn’t make them go away. Polishing can’t hide holes, knots, cracks, and other blemishes on its own.
Honestly delivering these pros and cons off the bat helps you emphasize that polished concrete is a great option for many uses, but it’s not right for every project or space. Getting this settled upfront ensures your clients have reasonable expectations and won’t be disappointed later. What you present before the work is considered recommendations and caveats. On the other hand, after the work has started, customers tend to think of these as excuses.
Get a sample for the customer
Some customers may be uncertain whether they’ll like the appearance of the concrete after polishing. In their head, they may be picturing a completely smooth, flaw-free end result, no matter the state the concrete is in before the work starts. This is where you have to emphasize what polishing can and can’t do.
The best way to solve this is through an on site polished sample. Choose an area of the existing floor that has cracks or blemishes for the sample so they will see the finished result in the worst place. This helps rid them of their expectations that polishing will fix the problems in the existing concrete. While a picture may be worth a thousand words, a mock-up can be worth tens of thousands of dollars.
Keep communication open
Every concrete project is different. It’s crucial to stay in touch about all aspects of the polishing process so that it all comes together with other design elements in the customer’s space. For instance, if they’re having other work done where the polishing is going to happen, that work could impact the final result of their floor.
Part of managing expectations properly is fully understanding all components of the project as well as the customer’s goals. Make it clear how they can get in touch and with whom they should talk if something changes in their plans. Leave the door open for questions.
Understanding customer expectations about polished concrete is the first step to managing them properly. At Concreate, we’re focused on ensuring our customers have realistic expectations for their projects so they’re never disappointed. We’re committed to delivering exactly what they want, so we make sure we’re on the same page as our customers before we start the work.
We deliver concrete that’s durable, easy to clean, slip- and stain-resistant, low maintenance, and environmentally friendly. And it all comes at an affordable price. We are true industry experts who love our trade.
Reach out to the team at thisisconcrete.com to learn more about our polishing, sealing, staining, grinding, and other concrete services.